Red Bull Rookies: Mugello Qualifying Report
Stefano Valtulini, the 14 year old Italian, sits on pole position at his home Grand Prix for Saturday’s Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup race. The weather once again played a role, cancelling the second qualifying session and leaving 18 year old Czech Tomas Vavrous and 13 year old Spaniard Aaron Espana to complete the front row.
Being first year Rookies, neither Espana or Valtulini know Mugello well though Valtulini had some idea where the track went after a single test day prior to this weekend. “I love the track, so fast and flowing,” he said. “For me I had no problems at all today, I was fastest on slicks in the free practice this morning and also with the wet tyres this afternoon, I was getting great feeling with them even though the track was dry. I am looking to do the same in the race if it is raining or not tomorrow.”
After sunshine for the morning free practice a rain shower wetted the track before the first qualifying so the riders all went out on rain tyres. It started to dry immediately for a repeat of the 2nd race at Assen. By the end of the sessions those doing quick times had shredded their tyres.
Then a thunderstorm swept across the track drenching the circuit. With no chance of it drying for the second session that was abandoned as there was no possibility to re-shod all the wheels with new rain tyres and practice time would not have been bettered anyway.
That didn’t worry Espana who had never ridden on the circuit before free practice began. “I just enjoyed the track from the start, it wasn’t difficult to learn, fast and a lot of fun. For me there is only one tricky section, that is the long right hander with the Ducati grandstand and the following left and right. I need to work on those, otherwise it is all great. For me I am hoping for a dry race though.”
Completing the front row Tomas Vavrous admitted that he had changed his mind about Mugello. “I wasn’t looking forward to the race here that much because I didn’t go that well last year but now I feel differently,” he grinned. “I wasn’t pushing that hard in qualifying, I wasn’t sure how dry it was but I was just feeling for the grip and going quicker. For the race I hope it is dry.”
Cup leader Arthur Sissis, the 16 year old Australian, like Vavrous has the advantage of having raced at Mugello previously in the Rookies Cup and sits comfortably on the 2nd row, 4th fastest. “I wasn’t pushing too hard because I wasn’t sure how dry it was, the new surface is all black and it wasn’t easy to see where it was wet.”
His arch rival, the 14 year old Italian Lorenzo Baldassarri is back on the 4th row, 11th fastest and taking his time as he, like Valtulini, has only tested once on the Mugello circuit. “I was a bit too cautious early on in qualifying, I should have pushed a bit more because by the time I really started pushing towards the end the tyres were destroyed and I couldn’t go faster. It should be OK for the race though… I hope,” concluded Baldassarri.
There is little doubt, going on previous races this year that Baldassarri will improve quickly during the race but he was 3.5 seconds slower than pole in qualifying and 2.7 seconds off the time of Sissis. He trails Sissis by 5 points but with 6 races still remaining in this year’s Cup there are plenty of points on offer.
The single race this weekend is on Saturday at 16.30 CET. Watch the races on TV around the world or on www.redbull.tv with the show beginning 10 minutes before race start.
1. Stefano Valtulini (ITA) 2 minutes 12.887 seconds
2. Aaron Espana (ESP) +0.713
3. Tomas Vavrous (CZE) +0.758
4. Arthur Sissis (AUS) +0.806
5. Florian Alt (GER) +1.380
6. Kevin Argino (ITA) +1.574
7. Javier Orellana (GBR) +1.935
8. Hafiq Azmi (MAS) +2.552
9. Xavier Pinsach (ESP) +2.917
10. Ivo Lopes (POR) +2.973